Creating opportunities for young people in our areas to express themselves is something that Michelle Wright, our Youth Coordinator, feels very passionately about.
Getting kids active and engaged is important as it allows them to discover new things that they are passionate about and helps them to develop important life skills as they grow older.
At the Scout Hut in Clayton, Michelle helps local kids to get engaged with a free boxing club, open to boys and girls who want to learn the basics of the sport. Not only is the club helping the kids to keep fit, but it is building up their levels of confidence and belief in themselves.
One young member, Lukojo Loponi, told us how the club had helped to change his life:
“Before boxing I didn’t have much self-confidence”, he explained. “I couldn’t talk out publicly or participate in school and I was a quiet person, but boxing changed me. I didn’t have much interest in the sport to begin with, I didn’t know the punches or how to position yourself until I found out about this club.
“When I arrived the club, the people were really nice. They welcomed me into their boxing club, and I made some nice new friends and ran through some drills.
“After boxing I felt braver and not afraid, boxing told me that I can fight my fears and fight anyone who wants to change who I am.
“I look up to the great boxers like Muhammad Ali, who said “I hated every minute of training, but I said don’t stop, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”. That quote really inspired me.
“Boxing changed who I am, and I believe it can change other people too.”
And it’s not only the training that is sparking creative life into the young people of Clayton. Sisters, Ellie and Alyssa have taken inspiration from the art world to create photographs and videos based around the boxing club:
“I do photography at college” Ellie told us, “and so we thought it would be a great project to do some videos, interviews and photography around the boxing.
“Our brothers are members of the boxing club and they really enjoy it, they’re working towards certificates for it now, getting through their bronze silver and gold awards. The coach is really good with them, there’s about fifteen of them and they learn to spar. Everyone is so friendly, we all have a laugh with each other, and Michelle is really free and lets us do what we want!”
Alyssa explained to us how she thinks the club is helping its members out in many different ways:
“I think it’s helping everyone’s confidence. There was one guy who wasn’t confident at all but now he’s been there for a few weeks he’s speaking to everyone.”
Ellie agrees, saying that Michelle changes the routine each week to help bring the best out in people:
“For example, as sisters we’re completely different. Alyssa is confident and smiley, and I’m completely different, I’m really quiet. I usually just sit for a bit, but Alyssa is usually straight in there.
“One week Michelle noticed this and set up a session were you talk about how we can help you. I said I needed help with my confidence. I feel like Michelle has helped us come closer as sisters, and with my brothers too. In fact, everyone involved is like a family now”.